18 Mar 2014

Missing Malaysia plane: claims and counter-claims

From the flight path and passengers on board, to the time of last contact with ground control: the search for the MH370 has been full of contradictions.

Saturday 8 March

Malaysia Airlines says that flight MH370 vanished from screens at 2.40am in the gulf of Thailand, on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The Malaysian government says four people were travelling with false ID – and then revises the number to two.

Sunday 9 March

Malaysia Airlines revises last time of contact to 1.30am, less than an hour after the plane took off. Radar records suggest the plane turned around before vanishing.

Monday 10 March

Malaysia’s Civil Aviation Chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman now says five passengers checked in and then did not board the plane. Malaysia Airlines later says four passengers who had bought tickets failed to turn up at, but that everyone who checked in did board.

Meanwhile Malaysia’s home minister says two men travelling on stolen passports “looked Asian”. This is later contradicted by Mr Azharuddin, who says they look more like Mario Balotelli. And then it emerges that both passengers were in fact, Iranian.

Tuesday 11 March

Malaysia’s air force chief General Rodzali Daud now says plane was detected at 2.40am, near Pulau Perak, in the northern end of the strait of Malacca.

Malaysia Airlines says the western peninsula is “now the focus” of the search – and then retracts the comment.

Wednesday 12 March

General Rodzali Daud denies he made any statement about searches being concentrated in the west – but says military has not ruled out possibility of the plane turning back. Nonetheless, there are more ships concentrated in the strait of Malacca and Andaman Sea (west of Malaysia), than the gulf of Thailand (north east).

Meanwhile Vietnam says it is scaling back its search, in frustration at the conflicting messages.

Saturday 15 March

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak says the plane’s disappearance was the result of a “deliberate action by someone on the plane”, and the homes of the pilots are searched.

The search is now concentrated on two corridors (incl 10,000 kms): a northern corridor stretching from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, and a southern corridor stretching from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.

Monday 17 March

Information about when the ACARS communication cut out changes yet again: “We don’t know when ACARS system was switched off,” says Ahmad Jauhari, Malaysia Airlines CEO. He later clarifies, saying the last contact was 1.07am. The next transmission was scheduled at 1.37am, but did not show up.